“Joe Blanton became the latest pitcher to praise the game calling of Carlos Ruiz, keeper of the scouting blueprints that have kept Tampa™s 3-4 hitters without a base hit this entire series. That™s the story. Not ducks left on the pond, not the blind officiating and certainly not the coonhound scat on Kentucky Joe™s bill.” So gushed Beerleaguer’s J. Weitzel following Blanton’s mastery of the Tampa Rays in last night’s 4th Game of the 2008 World Series, to which Joe Maddon might well reply, “coonhound what?” From the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Mike Jensen :

As first reported by MLB.com, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon told home-plate umpire Tom Hallion after the second inning that he believed Blanton had pine tar on his hat.

After the game, Maddon addressed the issue with the media. Asked if he noticed a dark spot on Blanton’s cap, Maddon said: “We did notice, it was rather dark. I did bring it to their [umpires’] attention. I asked them to just watch it and be vigilant about it, and nothing happened. But I was concerned about it early on.”

Hallion replied to Maddon that he would check the baseball, and if he found a foreign substance on the ball, MLB.com reported, he would act on it.

Later last night, MLB.com removed the story from its Web site. Geoff Grant, the managing editor of MLB.com said the story was removed because it was obtained “prematurely” by viewing a feed from Fox, which broadcast the game. Grant said that MLB.com would post a new story after the game that would include more reporting and quotes.

“It’s nothing,” Blanton said after the game. “They rubbed balls up with whatever they rub them with. I’m contantly trying to get moisture. It’s nothing sticky.” Blanton then said of his cap, “Anybody can go touch it. It’s just dirt from the ball.”

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel wasn’t aware of what Maddon was protesting about. At a postgame news conference, Manuel took his own cap off and pointed at the bill. “You can look at my cap, it’s got the same kind of stuff he’s [Maddon] talking about.”

I can’t claim to have watched every Phillies game this season, but I don’t recall seeing a rather dark stain, about two inches wide, on the bill of Manuel’s hat. Nor that many members of any other club’s pitching staff without some kind of inspection taking place.